Living with type 1 is a mental, physical, and emotional challenge every single second. Mentally, I’m thinking about it 24/7 (even when I don’t want to) because I’m preparing, calculating, strategizing, determining, wondering, interpreting, predicting. Physically, I’m poking my finger at least twice a day to test my blood sugar because I wear a continuous glucose monitor; when I’m not wearing that I will poke my finger up to 10 times a day. I’m injecting myself with a needle to deliver my insulin every time I eat something that has more than 5 carbohydrates in it. Once a week I need to change the site where I wear my continuous glucose monitor, which involves another needle going into my body. Sometimes I don’t even feel it, other times it’s incredibly painful. The physical part isn’t over yet. A high blood sugar makes me feel physically exhausted and drained. I lose motivation to do almost anything and all I want to do is sleep. It can also make me feel nauseous or give me a pounding headache. A low blood sugar also makes me feel physically exhausted. I can break into a cold sweat, begin shaking uncontrollably, my speech can be slurred or doesn’t make sense, and I can feel nauseous, helpless, and confused. This all leads to the emotional aspect of diabetes. Handling the pressure of all of this every moment of every day can sometimes drain the life right out of me and put me into a bad emotional state where I start to wonder if things will ever improve or if I can continue to keep up with it all. Will I always be able to handle this because my life depends on it? That’s a lot of pressure!! Could you imagine waking up every day knowing that you could face any or all of the challenges above at any given moment and persevere because you know the only other option is being unhealthy which leads to a laundry list of complications and eventually DEATH? A high blood sugar can lead to death. A low blood sugar can lead to death. Neglecting proper care can lead to death. That thought sits in the back of my mind every day.
However, I wouldn’t be who I am today without diabetes. It’s made me an incredibly strong, independent and resilient warrior. It’s taught me to overcome and achieve. It’s taught me to never judge a book by its cover because I am fighting an “invisible” illness, and everyone fights their own hidden battles. It’s taught me to be kinder and appreciate every day I wake up. It’s taught me that life has ups and downs just like my diabetes but that can be overcome by trying my best. I’ve learned that my diabetes doesn’t define me. I’ve learned that I am a lot braver than I give myself credit for. I’ve learned that every moment counts.
I always tell myself it could be worse. That I am lucky to live in this day and age with this disease because of all the amazing technology and resources I have access to. The reason I have these things is that people like YOU take the time to read about different people, and you choose to help people like me by donating. Donations help push forward more research and more technology so my life can continue to become easier until there is a cure. When I think about a cure, it’s really difficult to fathom and I have emotions that I can’t quite name. There is nothing I want more than to never have to inject myself again or be able to look at food and not immediately start calculating how much insulin I will need. That idea alone brings tears to my eyes. I need your help. I need it and the other 13 million Americans living with type 1 need it. We can’t fight this battle without you or your support. The support of my family, friends, and JDRF keep me going every day and I’ll be forever grateful for people like you.
– Brittany Willock